Every year before the NHL season, I draft up my "predictions" for the upcoming year and send it around to a few friends and family members via email. This year, I figured I'd share them with the Rink and therefore the whole Internet.
I have to make sure the Caps fans actually stick around to the end, so I'm doing the Western Conference first.
Of all the divisions, I think the Central is going to see the most turnover from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013. This is in large part due to the departure of Nicklas Lidstrom in Detroit and Ryan Suter in Nashville, as well as the expectation that St. Louis' goaltending is likely to regress.
- Chicago Blackhawks: The 'Hawks endured a "rough" season in 2011-2012, with injuries to key players like Jonathan Toews , underperformance by their goaltending, and a slight regression in point production by their young "stud" defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Though they finished with 101 points, their goal differential of +10 wasn't exactly stellar, in fact, it was the worst differential among the Western Conference playoff teams. Chicago could put the puck in the net last year, they just couldn't keep it out very well, and that was mostly down to the mediocre goaltending provided by Corey Crawford and his backup Ray Emery. If Crawford can give the Hawks merely league-average goaltending or better, they should win the division. If Crawford falters, I could easily see the Hawks making a deal to upgrade their goaltending prior to the playoffs.
- St. Louis Blues: The Blues' transformation under Ken Hitchcock was one of the great stories of 2011-2012. The Blues were a team loaded with untapped potential that Hitch's coaching savvy and attention to detail helped to blossom. Or so the story goes. While there's a degree of truth to that story, I doubt Hitchcock was directly responsible for turning Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak into the second coming(s) of Dominik Hasek. Simply put - there's no chance that the Blues get save percentages of .926 (Halak) and .940 (Elliot) out of their journeymen goaltending duo again. So, while the Blues will likely make the playoffs again, they won't be in contention for the President's Trophy.
- Detroit Red Wings: So begins year zero, AL (after Lidstrom). The Wings still have enough talent up and down the roster to make the playoffs, but Brendan Smith, Carlo Colaiacovo and Kyle Quincey are not going to make up for the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom. Up front, the Wings will have to hope that the addition of Damien Brunner and the return of Mikael Samsuelsson can offset the loss of Jiri Hudler and the retirement of Tomas Holmstrom.
- Nashville Predators: The Predators will still play a strong defensive game as an entire five-man unit, even with the loss of Ryan Suter. Still, the departures of players like Suter, and Hamhuis before him, leaves the Predators to rely on younger, relatively untested players such as Roman Josi and Jonathan Blom, or aging veteran such as Hal Gill and Scott Hannan. The likely regression on defense and the continued lack of a game-breaking talent up front will leave them struggling to make the playoffs from a tough division.
- Columbus Blue Jackets: To paraphrase Dave Chappelle, "What can I say about Columbus that hasn't already been said about Afghanistan?" The continued employment of Scott Howson is a minor miracle. At least the Nash trade will at least assure that half of the Blue Jackets' roster isn't filled out by AHL players. Still, with Howson at the helm, the inevitable high draft pick that the Blue Jackets will get at the end of the season will be frittered away or traded for some magic beans.
- Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks are a somewhat obvious choice, but still they are still the best team in the division. Injuries to Ryan Kesler and David Booth will hurt their secondary scoring to start the season. Vancouver had trade chips in Roberto Luongo and Keith Ballard that could shore up their scoring and defensive depth should those injuries linger.
- Minnesota Wild: Second place in the Northwest is probably one of the toughest calls in the league this year. Calgary took second last year, but appears to have regressed on paper, Edmonton is young and improving, but lacks experience, has some questions in net, and doesn't have a stellar defensive corps. Colorado could conceivably have the talent to challenge for second place and a low playoff seeding, but they're without arguably their most important player. By process of elimination, that leaves the Minnesota Wild. With a solid corps of goaltenders, a healthy Mikko Koivu, a cupboard stocked with prospects, and a defense with Ryan Suter as its anchor, the Wild are poised for a big season. Having Zach Parise, Dany Heatley, and Devon Setoguchi as their top-three wings will give the Wild the best scoring punch in their history. A healthy Pierre-Marc Bouchard (as much a contradiction in terms as "healthy Rick DiPietro"?) should add to the Wild's firepower.
- Edmonton Oilers: While this slot could have gone to the Avalanche, I believe the Oilers will take third in the Northwest on the strength of their scoring - provided both Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can stay healthy and Nail Yakupov can score the way he's capable of. Justin Schultz will bolster the Oilers' blue line, but talk of a Calder Trophy based on his play in the AHL may be a bit premature. If Dubnyk can play as least as well or better than he did last year, a playoff stop isn't totally out of the question. More likely, however, is that the Oilers fall just short and ship out some of their older players (Horcoff) at the deadline.
- Colorado Avalanche: Watching the Avs descend from being one of the showcase franchises in the NHL to being one of the chronically mismanaged franchises is - for a guy who grew up in Denver and can remember exactly where he was when the Avs hoisted the Cup in 1996 and 2001 - absolutely brutal. But the truth hurts. Despite Craig Anderson dragging the Avs to the playoffs a few years ago, the Avs have been pretty poor since the lockout and are likely to remain so, despite having a decent amount of talent on the roster. Erik Johnson hasn't worked out as the "franchise" defenseman that the Avs thought they were getting, and it's unlikely that, in hindsight, the Avs would trade Kevin Shattenkirk for Johnson straight-up. This year, the Avs are shooting themselves in the foot by low-balling Ryan O'Reilly, their leading scorer from last year and an absolute stud of a two-way centerman. If Matt Duchene can suddenly remember how to play hockey and return to being a top-two center, the loss of O'Reilly might not sting as badly. Gabriel Landeskog is a beast, and the addition of P.A. Parenteau will add some scoring depth, but the Avs desperately need Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, and Johnson to play up to their potential if they're going to have a prayer of making the playoffs. Additionally, the Avs will need Semyon Varlamov to stay healthy - something at which he's not been particularly fortunate in the past.
- Calgary Flames: The Flames' big offseason signings were Dennis Wideman and Jiri Hudler. . . which prompts the question: "why does Jay Feaster hate Jarome Iginla?" If ever there were a team in need of a full tear-down and rebuild, the Flames would be it. Their two best players (Iggy and Miikka Kiprussoff) are well past their primes, and while young players like Sven Bartschi could add some scoring, the team lacks the kind of young stars that Oilers have aplenty. This might be the season that Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester finally get traded. One would hope so, at least for their sakes.
- Los Angeles Kings: This is another extremely tough call - LA, Phoenix, and San Jose all have a legitimate shot at winning the Pacific and I went back and forth between LA and SJS, but ultimately I landed on the Kings because of the relative injury situations of the two teams. Initially, I was docking the Kings for the injuries to Anze Kopitar and Willie Mitchell, but the Sharks are arguably in a worse position with Brent Burns, Jason Demers, and Justin Braun all injured. It looks as though Kopitar should miss minimal time to start the season, and Jeff Carter has shown himself to be a more-than-capable replacement at center ice. The lockout could be a serious blessing for the Kings, given the long grind of the playoffs and Jonathan Quick's offseason back surgery. The team could use a bit more depth on defense, but this may finally be the year that they decide to trade Jonathan Bernier, since he's a restricted free agent at the end of the year and the Kings are clearly committed to Quick.
- San Jose Sharks: The Sharks have some injury concerns on defense (with Burns, Demers, and Braun all questionable or out to start the season), but their depth and experience at center, combined with excellent coaching (now with 100% more Larry Robinson!) should put them into the playoffs. If Burns can get healthy quickly and the Sharks can get some scoring outside of their top-six, they could contend for the division. More likely, however, they'll end up at the upper end of the non-divisional winners.
- Phoenix Coyotes: Despite winning the Pacific Division last year, the Coyotes had a worse goal differential than either the Sharks or the Kings. Oddly, their record in one-goal games was actually pretty poor, so it's not clear that much can be read into this. Still, it's unlikely that Mike Smith repeats what was, in all probability, a career year in 2011-2012. The departure of Ray Whitney is going to hurt, but having Antoine Vermette for a full season, along with the additions of Matt Lombardi and Steve Sullivan (if healthy) should keep the Coyotes in contention for a playoff spot.
- Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks are an odd. . . duck. Are they the team that flamed out spectacularly early in the season, leading to the firing of Randy Carlyle and the hiring of Bruce Boudreau? Or are they the team that mounted a late-season charge before falling well short of a playoff spot? I think they're far more likely the latter rather than the former. To wit: Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Jonas Hiller all endured "down" years in 2011-2012. All three should bounce back, and they'd better, because the Ducks are awfully thin on scoring depth. The Ducks could really benefit from Kyle Palmieri or Andrew Cogliano stepping up and seizing a second-line scoring role, which would allow Daniel Winnik to take his wheels and stone hands to the third line where he belongs. On defense, Sheldon Souray should provide some help to the power play, but something about Souray and Cam Fowler potentially playing on the points together fairly screams "shorthanded goal."
- Dallas Stars: It's almost as though the Stars can't figure out which way they'd like to go. Trading away Steve Ott, Mike Ribeiro, Nicklas Grossman, and Marc Fistric while letting Sheldon Souray leave as a free agent would seemingly suggest that the Stars were looking to rebuild around a young core of Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Kari Lehtonen, and Alex Goligoski. Then they sign aging free agents like Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney while neglecting to get Jamie Benn (a restricted free agent) under contract before the start of the season. It's enough to leave on scratching one's head. Derek Roy will give the Stars more two-way play than Ribeiro provided out of the #2C slot, and hopefully for the Stars, Cody Eakin can take over the #3C slot. Still, their defense will be an adventure. If Jagr and Whitney can replicate their 2011-2012 performances, the Stars could eke into the playoffs. Somewhere between the 10th and 13th seed is far more likely, however.
- New York Rangers: Per usual, the Rangers made a big offseason splash, acquiring Rick Nash from the Blue Jackets in return for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a first-round pick. Such is the depth of the Rangers that the losses of Dubinsky, Anisimov, and Erixon will hardly be felt. Still the move puts pressure on young players such as Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and Chris Kreider. Getting a full season out of Marc Staal and Anton Stralman will help the Rangers' defense, but if there's a weak point on their team, the pairing of Michael Del Zotto and Stu Bickel is it. Look for the Rangers to shore up their defensive depth at some point in the season. Barring serious injuries (not inconsiderable, given the histories of Marc Staal, Marian Gaborik, and Ryan Callahan), the Rangers should be considered favorites to prevail as the regular season Eastern Conference champions.
- Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens could push the Rangers for the division crown, but in all likelihood they'll have to "settle" for being either the four or five seed in the east. The combination of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin down the middle is still the best 1-2 center punch in the league. Provided that both players can stay healthy of course. Unlike years past when Jordan Staal could fill in as a first or second line center, the Pens will have less margin for error in 2012-2013. Brandon Sutter has the makings of a good, or possibly even a great 3C, but he lacks the offensive ability to be more than a band-aid should Malkin or Crosby see significant time in the press box. The Pens are built down the center, but they received strong play from James Neal and Chris Kunitz last year. After those two, however, there's a significant drop in scoring ability. The Pens likewise lack depth on defense. Kris Letang (when healthy) is an elite puck-moving defenseman, but Paul Martin has never quite performed as advertised and the departure of Zbynek Michalek leaves the Pens' defensive corps a little thin. The Pens are stocked with defensive prospects, but most of them are two to three years away from the NHL. In goal, Marc-Andre Fleury should bounce back from a sub-par year and an atrocious postseason. If he doesn't, Tomas Vokoun is a more than capable backup.
- Philadelphia Flyers: Here's my bold prediction: the Flyers will struggle to make the playoffs. It feels odd to type, and I'm sure that I'll catch some flak for it, but nevertheless, I think it's probable. The Flyers lost too much talent in the offseason and got career years out of too many players (Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, and Matt Read) last year. If Ilya Bryzgalov regains his form, or the Flyers can trade for a proper goaltender, perhaps they can claw their way to a 6th, 7th, or 8th seed, but in all likelihood, this is a "regrouping" year in Philadelphia. Brayden and Luke Schenn have been underwhelming thus far in their professional careers, and the Flyers are banking that Brayden can replace Jagr and/or James van Riemsdyk, while Luke offsets the loss of Chris Pronger and Matt Carle. Claude Giroux is still one of the best players in hockey, and Peter Laviolette is a hell of a coach, but the Flyers' lack of depth on defense and the losses up front (don't forget the injury to Daniel Briere) will be difficult to overcome.
- New York Islanders: Here's another "bold" prediction: the Islanders won't finish in the Atlantic basement. At some point, the Islanders' wealth of talent should result in a playoff berth. That's unlikely in 2013, but they should be closer than in years past. With John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner, and Brad Boyes up front, the Isles should be able to put the puck in the net. Should one of those guys falter, the Islanders have Nino Niederreiter tearing it up in Bridgeport. Mark Streit and (presumably at some point) Lubomir Visnovsky give the Isles two excellent power-play quarterbacks. Evgeni Nabokov should solidify the goaltending position. The Isles will lack depth on defense, particularly if Visnovsky remains AWOL and Hamonic can't stay healthy.
- New Jersey Devils: Wait. . . what? Weren't the Devils just in the Stanley Cup Finals? Yes, but the team is without Zach Parise and, to start the season, Adam Henrique. Sure, Travis Zajac is healthy and Ilya Kovalchuk decided to come back from Mother Russia, but this is still a team riddled with holes. Martin Brodeur will likely benefit from the time off he received during the lockout (provided he can still fit into his pads), but that won't be enough to keep the Devils competitive in an absolutely brutal division.
- Boston Bruins: The Northeast Division, much like the Northwest, is one strong team and a whole bunch of "meh." The Bruins will again ice a Cup-contending team, but they'll really benefit from just how weak the rest of their division is. With Nathan Horton back and healthy, the Bruins will boast a strong top-six with Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, and Brad Marchand. Depth players like Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly bring some scoring to the bottom lines and are capable of filling in on the top-two lines should injuries strike. In contrast to their forward lines, the B's lack depth at defense. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg will again be a solid shutdown pairing, but the quality drops off quickly thereafter. Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference are out of their depth as a second pairing. The B's had better hope that Dougie Hamilton is ready for the NHL. So long as Chara and Tuukka Rask stay healthy, the B's should have a top-three seed locked up.
- Buffalo Sabres: I suppose somebody has to come in second in the Northeast. . . so why not the Sabres? I'll tell you why not: Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Steve Ott, and Jochen Hecht. Those are the Sabres' centers for 2013. It's possible that Mikhail Grigorenko sticks with the team, in which case their center depth won't be a total joke, but still. The defense, on the other hand, is ludicrously deep, and the Sabres could easily turn one of their nine NHL defensemen into additional forward depth. Ultimately, I think a strong year from Ryan Miller and Tyler Myers is enough to carry the Sabres to second in the Northwest, but making the playoffs could be tight.
- Montreal Canadiens: Again, I suppose someone has to come in third, so why not the Habs? Well, their top-two defensemen are P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov, one of whom is unsigned and the other has played only a handful of games in the last two years. The Canadiens have a couple solid forward lines with Erik Cole, David Deharnais, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec (if healthy), Rene Bourque, and Brian Gionta. If Alex Galchenyuk can stick with the team, the Habs should have decent scoring depth. The story on defense isn't so rosy. With Subban out, the Habs are relying on Markov to stay healthy and play alongside the steady (and underrated) Josh Gorges. After that, the Habs are rolling out Alexei Emelin, Raphael Diaz, Yannick Weber, Francis Bouillon, and Tomas Kaberle. Carey Price had better be ready to see a lot of pucks.
- Ottawa Senators: To give you an idea of how bad the Senators' defensive depth is, their official site has only five defensemen listed, and one of those is Jared Cowen, who's out for the season. Erik Karlsson had a stellar season last year, but I think he's due for significant regression, particularly given that opposing teams will have no excuse not to target him this year. Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar are serviceable, if a bit long in the tooth. After that, the Sens' defense gets uglier than Mike Ricci. The Sens also benefited from a strong performance by Craig Anderson last year. Anderson will need to be even better this year if the Sens are going to have a prayer of making the playoffs.
- Toronto Maple Leafs: Already lacking center depth, the Leafs took the bold decision to waive Tim Connolly before the season, leaving Tyler Bozak as their presumptive #2 center. Other than that, the Leafs actually have a halfway-decent top six, with Phil Kessel, Mikhail Grabovski, Joffrey Lupul, James van Riemsdyk, and Nikolai Kulemin. Jay McClement is a pretty good #3C, and if Nazem Kadri can ever live up to his draft slot, the Leafs might actually have some forward depth. On the defensive side, the Leafs have a decent top-four with Dion Phaneuf, John-Michael Liles, Jake Gardiner, and Carl Gunnarsson. After that, however, comes the ghost of Mike Komisarek, Cody Franson and a bunch of question marks. Speaking of question marks, the Leafs' goaltending situation is completely up in the air. Right now, James Reimer and Ben Scrivens are between the pipes, but many have presumed that the Leafs would be a primary suitor for Roberto Luongo. Well, that trade has yet to materialize, and the Leafs' duo of AHL-caliber goalies will consign them to the basement of the Northeast.
- Washington Capitals: There is a certain risk to sounding like a "homer" with this pick, but the Caps remain the strongest team in the Southeast. Pretty much everything that could go wrong for the Caps last year did go wrong. And yet they still made it through the second round of the playoffs. The 2012-2013 edition of the Caps will miss Alexander Semin's goal-scoring, but they'll likely make up for it by spreading the wealth (i.e. power-play time) to Wojtek Wolski, Eric Fehr, Mike Ribeiro, and Mathieu Perreault. Speaking of Ribeiro, the Caps go into the 2012-2013 season with a legitimate second-line center for the first time since 2008-2009. Once Brooks Laich is healthy (and presuming he returns to being the #3C) the Caps will have depth down the middle to match any team in the east. The Caps are similarly deep on defense, although the quality drops off somewhat in the last pairing while Dmitry Orlov is injured. Still, with Mike Green healthy and John Carlson busted out of his sophomore slump, the Caps have two strong puck-movers to go with defensive stalwarts Karl Alzner, Roman Hamrlik and, if he can return to the form he showed prior to 2011-2012, Jeff Schultz. The near-miraculous return of Tom Poti only adds to this depth. Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth give the Caps similar depth in net. Provided that the Caps can quickly learn Adam Oates' system, and that Oates' system improves the power play (and with it Alexander Ovechkin's production) the Caps should take one of the top-three seeds in the Eastern Conference.
- Carolina Hurricanes: The 'Canes made some big moves in the offseason, signing Alexander Semin and trading Brandon Sutter for Jordan Staal. While these moves will be enough to push Carolina into the playoffs, they won't be quite enough to win the division, largely because Carolina's defense is still a bit shaky. Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason are strong defensemen, but on a deeper team, they'd be a second-pair tandem. Carolina has some talented young defenders in Justin Faulk, Jamie McBain, and Bobby Sanguinetti, but the less said about Joe Corvo, the better. The addition of Jordan Staal has given the Canes a solid 1-2 punch at center, should coach Kirk Muller decide to split Jordan from his brother Eric Staal, rather than playing Eric on Jordan's wing as some have suggested. The loss of Brandon Sutter deprived the Canes of a solid 3C, and the injury to Tuomu Ruuttu further depleted the Canes at center ice.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning are coming off a disappointing season that saw them miss the playoffs after advancing to the third round the year prior. The Bolts, led by Steven Stamkos, Martin St Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, and Teddy Purcell, showed an ability to put the puck in the net. The Lightning hope that the additions of B.J. Crombeen, Benoit Pouliot, and Cory Conacher will increase their scoring depth. The other end of the ice was, however, another story altogether. The Lightning's defense and goaltending both struggled, surrendering the most goals in the league (281). Lightning GM Steve Yzerman sought to address this problem in the offseason by adding free agents Sami Salo and Matt Carle, and trading for the young Keith Aulie to go along with midseason acquisition Brian Lee. Additionally, Yzerman acquired the enormous Anders Lindback from Nashville. Some have worried about the "loss" of Matthias Ohlund will have a negative impact on the Bolts' defense corps, but given how poorly Ohlund has played the last two seasons, this may be an addition by subtraction. Yzerman has done an impressive job rebuilding his defense and goaltending, and it should be enough to return the Lightning to the playoffs, but not to capture the division.
- Florida Panthers: The Panthers will drop from first to fourth, in large part due to regression on both an individual and team level. Individually, certain Panthers such as Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, and Stephen Weiss all had "career" years in 2011-2012. At the team level, the Panthers sucked in overtime and shootouts, but they got into extra time more often than any other team in the league (25 times). Look for the Panthers to miss out on a few more of those "tie points" in 2013. The Cats lost some significant personnel from last year, with Mikael Samuelsson signing with Detroit and Jason Garrison heading to Vancouver. To offset these losses, the Panthers signed Peter Mueller and Filip Kuba. Mueller produces when healthy, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy for several years. For his part, Kuba is steady and can produce some points on the power play, but he's also getting up there in years and shouldn't be counted on for top-pairing minutes. Though the Panthers seemingly have decent forward depth with Versteeg, Fleischmann, Weiss, Scottie Upshall, Mueller, Sean Bergenheim, Marcel Goc, Shawn Matthias, and Tomas Kopecky, the fact that GM Dale Tallon felt the need to sign Alexei Kovalev is an ill omen that shows how desperate the Panthers are for top-end skill. One area the Panthers aren't desperate is between the pipes, with steady veterans Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen holding the fort until prospect Jakob Markstrom is ready to take over. Barring a significant step forward from Erik Gudbranson and/or Jonathan Huberdeau, the Panthers will likely miss the playoffs.
- Winnipeg Jets: The Jets took advantage of a raucous "honeymoon" crowd to post a relatively strong home record, but they were done in by an atrocious record on the road. With a compressed season filled with trips to the southeast, look for this pattern to continue. The Jets have talented and promising players sprinkled throughout their lineup, but they're spread far too thinly and too many are relatively one-dimensional. Dustin Byfuglien, for example, is an offensive force from the blue line. Unfortunately, his defense is forcefully atrocious. Zach Bogosian shows promise, but he remains hindered after offseason wrist surgery. In theory, Olli Jokinen, Bryan Little, Alexander Burmistrov, and Nik Antropov give the Jets three scoring-line centers. In reality, none of the three would be a top-line center on a Cup contender (although Burmistrov has potential), and Antropov is injured. Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd provide grit and scoring from the wings, Alexei Ponikarovsky can score a bit and Blake Wheeler brings his, well, wheels, but it's not enough to offset the overall lack of talent across the roster. Perhaps the Jets can fly out of the basement if Bogosian returns, Ondrej Pavelec stands on his head, and young players like Mark Schiefele exceed expectations. Otherwise the frequent flyer miles will take their toll and ground the Jets before the playoffs.
(Division winners denoted with italics)
- Vancouver Canucks
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Los Angeles Kings
- St. Louis Blues
- San Jose Sharks
- Detroit Red Wings
- Phoenix Coyotes
- Minnesota Wild
- Nashville Predators
- Anaheim Ducks
- Edmonton Oilers
- Colorado Avalanche
- Dallas Stars
- Calgary Flames
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- New York Rangers
- Boston Bruins
- Washington Capitals
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Buffalo Sabres
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Montreal Canadiens
- New York Islanders
- Florida Panthers
- New Jersey Devils
- Ottawa Senators
- Winnipeg Jets
- Toronto Maple Leafs
Now it's your turn - put your predictions in the comments section, and we can reassess at the end of the season.